High Court rules ‘with finality’ on Liberal Party leadership row

July 16, 2007 1:27 am Published by Leave your thoughts

(July 16, 2007/ Manila) The Supreme Court has ruled “with finality” that former Senate President Franklin Drilon remained the legitimate president of the Liberal Party (LP), junking a motion for consideration filed by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza appealing the tribunal’s decision on the case three months ago.

In an en banc resolution dated July 5, 2007, the Supreme Court “resolved to deny with finality” the motion for reconsideration filed by Atienza’s lawyers “there being no substantial arguments to warrant the reversal of the questioned resolution.” A copy of the SC resolution was obtained by the LP over the weekend.

“With this final and executory decision of the Supreme Court, it is now imperative that we put this unfortunate party controversy behind us. This SC decision put to rest all illegitimate claims to the party leadership and pave the way for long-awaited reunification of the Liberal Party, “Drilon said. “A huge challenge awaits us in 2010. We can not fail the Filipino people’s aspiration for reform and good governance.”

“Again, the LP salutes the Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law and the right of political parties to free association. We are confident the LP members will always uphold the public interest and shun the long-discredited �traditional politics of patronage,'” Drilon added.

It will be recalled that on April 17, the High Tribunal, with the vote of 9-5, issued a resolution overturning an earlier Commission on Elections (Comelec) recommendation that the Drilon leadership failed to show evidence that the 1992 Party Constitution (Salonga Constitution) was properly ratified.

In its April decision, the high court upheld Drilon’s position that the Salonga Constitution of the LP has been amended under which his election as party president was legal and that his term would have ended on Nov. 30, 2007.

In effect, the High Tribunal ruling put an end to the long-drawn leadership controversy in the country’s second oldest political party by stripping Atienza of the bogus title of LP president.

It will be recalled that Atienza tried to wrestle the party leadership through a rump LP elections at the Manila Hotel on March 2, 2006 with the prodding of Malacanang after the LP officers led by Drilon withdrew their support from the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on July 8, 2005, shortly after the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal broke out.

Drilon’s lawyers led by Fred Asis elevated the case before the Supreme Court after the Comelec ruled that Drilon’s term as LP president has already expired and called for the holding of elections.

Drilon maintained that under the ratified Salonga constitution, his term should end in November 2007 and not in July 2005 as alleged by the Atienza breakaway faction. Drilon assumed the party presidency after former LP president Florencio Abad was appointed education secretary.

The LP leadership dispute surfaced after the Comelec, on Oct. 13, 2006, upon the petition of Drilon, invalidated the March 2006 rump elections that illegally installed Atienza as party president and defeated administration candidate, then Malacanang chief of staff, Mike Defensor as party chairman.

Although the Comelec had ruled in favor of Drilon, it held however that he would only serve as LP president in a holdover capacity since he was elected to serve the unfinished term of Abad pursuant to the Salonga Constitution. Following this, the Comelec had ordered an intra-party election for a new set of officers. The Comelec said that Drilon was not able to prove that the Salonga Constitution was duly amended in 1999 and 2003, prompting Drilon’s group to elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

On March 2006, the LP National Political Council passed a resolution declaring that Atienza, then Presidential Chief of Staff and defeated senatorial candidate Mike Defensor, Antique Gov. Sally Perez, Northern Samar Rep. Harlin Cast-Abayon and former Batangas Gov. Armand Sanchez are “deemed resigned from the Liberal Party for convening and holding the unauthorized assembly of LP leaders and the election of renegade officers on 2 March 2006 at the Manila Hotel.”

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This post was written by CALD

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